2024 on the Horizon

Happy New Year, everyone!
I’ve been slacking on making blog posts this year, but that’s largely because I’ve been putting more focus on writing and less on blogging when I’m depressed or disappointed in my production. The “woe is me” posts just don’t accomplish anything, so I decided to stop writing them. More positivity in the new year, less doom!

2023 was quite a productive year for me, with more books and anthologies published in a single year than I’ve ever done. I started the year with Panthers’ Reign, the sequel to Wolves’ Dominion. This Sapphic fantasy romance duet has been my most successful project yet (though the end of 2023 is rapidly catching up—more on that in a bit).

February also brought the solo release of One Night Stand-in, which had previously been featured in an anthology. This novella has bounced between being sold on Amazon and being available as a free reader magnet. I’m still trying to find its place in the world, its niche, and hopefully in 2024 I’ll figure out what I want to do with it. Haha!

In March I released Hunting Woods with my writer wifey/coauthor Angelique Jordonna. Though not my usual genre, it has received great reviews as we find our place in the indie horror realm.

April brought the return of the Abnormalverse! I received the rights to the series back from the original publisher and rereleased the first two books with new covers, plus introduced the third book in the series. Book four is on my writing docket, but unfortunately the Abnormal books are moving rather slowly, so it’s not as high a priority as the romance books are, which tend to sell faster.

At the end of May/early June, I released Micah’s Girls: A Single Dad Romance. This book has done fairly well, and it’s my first foray into the sweet and spicy realm of romance.

July was quiet, but August picked up with my latest Nowhere book, Hell’s Princess. Its sales have been decent for a Nowhere book, though not as good as Pact with the Pack or Irresistible Monstrosities. Still, it pulls in quite a few page reads on Kindle Unlimited each month, so I think people are enjoying it.

Things were quiet on the release front until November, when I released the full story to Xalan Claimed, my first alien romance. It had been partially released earlier in the year in a charity anthology, but with the whole story done (and two more books on the way in 2024), it seems to be well received.

Finally, in December I released Call Me Bunny, a dark contemporary whychoose romance that has exploded onto the scene (relatively speaking, anyway)! I’ve made more on it in the past two weeks than on most titles the whole year. Bunny was also my thickest book yet, coming in just under 85,000 words. It’s also my most trigger-filled, kink-filled, and trope-filled book HAHA A TikTokker (WhyChoose Mayhem) was kind enough to make a post listing them, so I turned it into a reader’s “shopping list.” 😉

In 2023, I also got taken in and adopted by an amazing PA, Sarah Klinger. This woman helps me so much and gives me tons of support, both personally and professionally. I couldn’t have done as well as I did the second half of 2023 if she hadn’t come into my life!

As if that wasn’t enough, I dipped my toes into subscription services this year, starting with a (failed) Patreon and moving to a Ream account, which is geared more towards authors. So far I’ve got two stories started there, so you can get early, first-look access to chapters as I write them!

Now that the 2023 recap is out of the way … What’s in store for ’24?

Perhaps that’s best “said” in graphic form:

That’s not everything that’s coming in 2024, but it’s a start. Haha. I’m doing more cowrites in the new year, plus some exciting anthology and shared-world projects. There are two more Nowhere books on the horizon, plus a Nowhere prequel novella, the second and third Xalanite Mates books, and more!

While I’m not making any “resolutions” per se, I do plan on focusing more on my writing and trying to keep more organized about it. I want more releases, yes, but I also want to make sure they’re still quality works. In 2023 I started something I call “tandem writing,” where I work on a few different WIPs at once. If one project stalls/gets blocked, I move on to another and keep writing. So far, this process seems to be at least moderately successful. I keep the creative juices flowing, and I’m not “wasting” time by beating my head against the wall on one solitary project that won’t behave. That has seemed to work so far, so I’m keeping with the chaos and letting the ideas flow where they may.

With all that said, here’s to 2024! May you have a less terrible year than the three previous 😉

News in the Abnormalverse

IMPORTANT UPDATE: If you’ve been searching me on the Zon, you may have noticed that the Abnormal books listings look a little different. The first book, Abnormal, is listed in audiobook and paperback only, and the paperback is listed as “out of print.” Escaping the Light, the second book, is listed only as paperback and also is listed as “out of print.”

DO NOT PANIC!! I have split amicably from RhetAskew Publishing for the Abnormal series and am in the process of getting full rights reverted to me. The ebooks for these will be down for an indeterminate time until I can get the files ready, and no new paperbacks will be available until that same time. HOWEVER, I have new covers for the first two books, a shiny cover for the third, and as soon as the files are ready, you’ll be able to get all three books in both formats again!

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR THE ABNORMALVERSE? The Abnormalverse WILL CONTINUE! I have two more books planned for the main series, and possibly a spinoff series of another five books. I’m about 11k words into Dead Cities Rising, the fourth Abnormal book, and am getting ready to dive back in and continue writing it. I have the outline done-ish (I’m a plantser, so I don’t fully outline), and same goes for the final Abnormalverse book, Tangled Heirs. It will finish at my pace, amid my other projects, so while there may be a bit of a wait between books still, I’ll do my best not to drag them out. 😉

TL;DR: Abnormal and Escaping the Light are temporarily unavailable, but they’ll be back in pretty new covers, along with Fight the Light, the third installment!

2023 and Beyond

It’s that time again: a new year. Time for reflection on the past twelve months and planning for the next.

Looking at 2022 by sheer numbers, it was both a high and a low year for me. If you look strictly at words written/books published, it was kind of slim. I wrote and published only two novels–one rather short–a short story, and two novellas. Compared to other years, pretty empty. At the end of 2021, I had a sort of breakdown. I couldn’t maintain the pace I was trying to keep, and I was getting discouraged with my Muse. I cancelled a series that just wasn’t jiving and pulled out of 90% of the anthologies I had signed up for.

Now, as far as royalties go … I kicked ASS!!! In 2022 (at least January through November), I made more than twice my total royalties for the entire 2015-2021 time period! My monster reverse harem novel killed, and it’s still going strong. And even better, my first Sapphic romance, a fantasy–two genres I’d never tried before and had no following in–broke the top 100 in the lesbian romance category on Amazon! It’s now getting even higher Kindle Unlimited page reads than even Irresistible Monstrosities. I’m extremely proud of this level of success in these two new subgenres for me.

I know these numbers aren’t Earth-shattering, but for me, they’re a good sign. Something I’m doing is working, and someone out there–a lot of someones–like my books enough to keep reading. That gives me hope, and it makes me confident enough to keep going.

I’ve got a few new things up my sleeve in the new year. The second in the Sapphic fantasy romance duet, a horror cowrite, an excerpt in an anthology, a contemporary single dad romance, a new Nowhere book, and an alien romance trilogy … all set for 2023. Is it a lot? Yeah, it is. But do I think I can handle it now?

You know what? I think I can.

I’ve got this. I have more stories to tell, more genres to write, more words to get out there. I even have some plans for 2024/2025! It’s like I’m a “real” author or something. Haha! Maybe some day, anyway. I’m nowhere near quitting my day job, but I’m more than twice as close to my goal as I was this time last year.

I’m coming for you, 2023. I might not win, but I’m gonna fight the whole way.

The Good, the Bad, and the Bipolar

Look at that image. Just look at it: thirteen published books, most within the past 2 years, with four more on the horizon for this year!

As a graphic, it almost looks impressive.


What would be more impressive? How about if I could do this for a living!?

Oh, wait. I can’t.

Yeah. I have bills to pay and stuff to get done. I can’t just write. And normally, I’m okay with the author half-life that I’ve managed to eke out for myself.

The past couple of days, however, I’m less and less okay with that.

You may have noticed the stilted lines. The fractured paragraphs. That’s a stylistic choice, representative of how my fucking mind is operating right now.

I was doing okay, I guess. I mean, I was more or less emotionally stable until a day or two ago, thanks to the wonders of modern medicine. Problem was, one of those medicines–the one primarily responsible for my stability–also had a side effect that I just couldn’t take anymore. A little over one week before my next psychiatrist appointment, I stopped it. Not quite cold turkey; I tried tapering it down, going every other day instead of daily, but that pesky side effect just wouldn’t go away.

Last time I took this med was 2-3 days ago. Side effect is now gone, but so is my stability.

I spent about half of yesterday crying. Crying because I’m nowhere near a point in my life where I can write as a job and not squeezing it in as a “hobby.” Crying because, while my day job isn’t necessarily a bad one, it’s not one I enjoy. Crying because my primary care doctor just about ignored me when I went to him with a different (physical) problem. Crying because the pharmacy wasn’t open yet when I got out of the doctor’s. Crying because I was frustrated. Crying because I just couldn’t stop.

Bipolar disorder sucks.

I don’t exactly enjoy crying all the damn time. I don’t enjoy feeling like I’m on the edge of insanity. But for the next week, I guess that’s just going to be my life.

My problem is, besides writing, I honestly don’t know what I want to do with my life. Forty-two years old, and my dream job is, for the time being, a pipe dream. I know that I don’t want to make healthcare my career. I don’t want to spend the rest of my existence doing this. But what do I want to do, then? Maybe I can break it down.

  1. WFH. I would kill to be able to ditch the commute and the dressing up. If I could plop down at my computer and go to town on X project, even if X isn’t writing, that would be great.
  2. Creativity. I want a job where I’m doing something on the creative spectrum. I don’t want to work with numbers.
  3. And number three … I don’t fucking know. I guess one and two are all I’ve got so far.

So … Anyone hiring someone to stay at home and be creative??

The ultimate irony in all this is that for these last two days, I haven’t gotten a single word of progress on my WIPs. I’ve been so busy organizing and thinking about logistics and what have you that I haven’t actually written anything. Oh, I’ve been working, but it’s all been essentially admin stuff.

One week. In one week, I’ll hopefully get a new med that doesn’t give me that side effect but still manages to keep the tears in check.

Breaking Point

I used to be skinny. Not just average. Not just thin. I was a skinny B.

I grew up skinny. I didn’t know what it was to have an ounce of extra fat on me. Then, right around 21/22, that started to change. I slowly got up to average. I was still okay with that. I mean, nothing wrong with that, right?

I got to the upper end of the ideal weight for my height at about age 26/27. By 28, a change in medicine had dropped me back down to almost my skinny B state.

Then 30 hit, along with an increase in stress.

Then I met my now-husband, who happens to LOVE cooking.

Then my meds changed again and again. My weight skyrocketed, and aside from a few short-lived diets, stayed up.

By 42, I was 300 pounds.

To get an idea of the sheer difference, let’s see what one of the old me looks like side-by-side with one of the current me:

Look at that! I used to have a waist!

My waist is now, sadly, more convex than concave. You know that Santa Claus “bowlful of jelly” bit? Yeah. I jiggle when I walk. It’s terrible.

The most success I ever had with dieting was the keto diet, in which I lost about 60 lbs before I stalled. And stalled. And stalled. And then started gaining again. During the last holiday season, I gave up. Went back to eating whatever tf I wanted, because hell, if I was going to gain weight, I was going to do it on my terms.

Then I started having trouble getting in and out of the car. I’d get short of breath putting on socks or getting into bed. I realized this weight was going to kill me if I didn’t get it under control. Of course I asked my primary care doc what I should do. His answer? “Well, you’re a woman, and you’re on a lot of meds.” Okay, yes, those are speed bumps on the road to weight loss, but what do you suggest?

He didn’t give me anything else.

Finally, I asked point blank about bariatric surgery. He was all for it, and referred me to a surgeon. Now I’m dieting and practicing good eating habits while I wait the allotted time my insurance requires before I get gastric bypass done. Will I end up like 28-year-old me? Probably not, but I’ll be in better shape than I am now.

The sad part? I bet my PCP was afraid to suggest bariatric surgery. I bet he didn’t want to insult me, so he dodged the issue by blaming it on my gender and my medicines and leaving it at that.

That. Shit. Is. DANGEROUS.

What if I hadn’t had the epiphany that I needed to take charge of my health and ask for help? Would he have allowed me to continue gaining until some comorbidity killed me?

That’s my real issue with this. My health is at risk, my very life, and I suspect my doctor didn’t recommend the best treatment because he didn’t want to insult me. It made me wonder: How many people have lost their shit at him for suggesting lifesaving treatment just because their feelings got hurt??

Here’s what I think: I think that, while empowering for some, the whole “body positivity” movement is going to end up killing someone, if it hasn’t already.

What do I mean? Well, it’s simple: not every “curvy girl” is really “curvy.” I sure as hell am not. I’m fat. I’m not going to mince words and try to claim “curvy,” because to me, “curvy” implies full breasts and hips but not an unhealthy body weight. You can be “curvy” and not be “fat.” I am not curvy.

There’s a danger in this body positivity thing. I have seen women (and for the sake of simplicity, since I don’t know what it’s like to be a dude, I’m going to focus on women) who struggle to walk and breathe normally who are proud of their size. It baffles me! Why would you be proud that you can’t do simple activities due to your weight? There is such a vast difference between curvy/big boned and morbidly obese. If your weight is affecting your health, you’ve gone past the point of body positivity and into a shortened lifespan.

Pride is not worth it. Sure, you’ve got big ta-tas; but if your overall weight causes you health issues, don’t sit there proclaiming your pride in your “curves.” Do something about the excess weight before it kills you.

I reached the breaking point, and I plan on getting to a healthy weight. I will never claim “curvy girl” as a euphemism for my obesity. I am what I am, and until I can lose this weight, that’s what I will be.

Now, before I catch flack for “weight shaming” or something, that’s not what I’m trying to do. I’m trying to open some eyes to the reality that not all “curvy” people are a healthy weight. Look at your breathing. Your sleep. Do you have sleep apnea? Reflux? Joint problems? Cardiovascular disease? Every comorbidity is a step closer to a point of no return.

I’m not doing this just because of the numbers. It’s not just what the scale reads. It’s not just the size of clothes I have to buy. It’s my health, and it won’t get better until I get my weight under control.

Love, lust, and … tentacles?

Irresistible Monstrosities are coming! (Heh)

That’s right, I’m jumping on the monster romance bandwagon, and of course I’m going all-in with a reverse harem story 😉 My monsters are humanoid but not shifters, so you can expect it to get weird (in the best way).

Since I had a little mini-breakdown with my writing at the end of last year, I had to cancel a preorder for another, as-yet-unfinished book series (one that might not get finished, if I’m being honest with myself). I was trying to keep a full-time author schedule while having a full-time day job and some semblance of a social life outside of that. Not conducive to mental stability sometimes. As such, I cut back on the box sets I’m in for the year and took a breather from writing until my Muse stopped being pissed at me. She finally gave me the inspiration for Irresistible Monstrosities, and I’ve got that rolling right along–but because of the canceled preorder (and because Amazon has rules and stuff), I can’t set another preorder until next year. So…It’s gonna be a LIVE release. Some day. I’m hoping this spring, and things are still on track for that. I have a cover in the works and I’m already almost 20% into the story at about a week’s worth of writing time. Go me!

Now on to less fun news: financially, it looks like I’m going to have to cut back on some of what I’ve been trying to do to build my author brand/business. I got a little manic (if you’re bipolar, you know what I mean) and spent too much on swag and new covers for some of my better titles that weren’t doing so well because they had my homemade crappy covers. The covers I’ve gotten back so far are FANTASTIC, but sadly I will have to budget my time and money to allow for future cover designs if I’m going to continue writing–which I have no intention of stopping.

Ideally, in a perfect world, I’d have the extra funds to hire a PA (personal assistant) to help me out. I had one who was working pro bono for me, but she had life issues of her own and couldn’t keep that up. Fast forward to now, when AJ has put too damn much on her plate again. I’ve got several takeovers lined up in the coming weeks/months, which isn’t too terribly much to handle, but still … that’s more time taken away from the writing to prepare for those. Ugh.

I’ll find a way. Already this month my page reads have almost reached the totals for November AND December combined, so the new covers seem to have helped at least somewhat. I’m gearing up to make myself a signed paperback form that I’ll open every so often for readers to order physical books from me. Now that I have covers WORTH having in your grubby little mitts, I feel like this might be a good idea to revisit.

Things have slowed down. They’ll stay slow for a while. I won’t have the output of a full-time author, but I’ll do my damnedest to have the quality of a “real” author. I’m not quitting. I’m just taking my time to maintain some semblance of a healthy mental state.

Love the color, hate the mood

I love the color blue. I love my blue eyes, and if I have a choice when it comes to wardrobe, I usually choose the blue option. There are few shades of blue that I don’t like, actually.

That being said, the mood known as “blue” sucks ass.

I’ve been blue for a while. It comes and goes in varying degrees, but it’s almost always somewhere in my head, tainting my outlook on life with a cyan haze. Whether it’s from the decreased sunlight of the winter season, from the bipolar disorder, from life stress, from weight gain, or from all of the above, feeling blue blows.

My most recent depression has led me down some bumpy thought-roads lately. I’ve been thinking about what I enjoy doing now, comparing it to what I used to enjoy doing, debating if the loss of joy in some things is depression-related or something else … and I’ve come to the conclusion that some things can stay, some things should probably go, and some things need to be pared down to an emotionally-manageable level.

Whether it’s through food or shopping, I’ve been futilely chasing a much-needed serotonin high. No matter what I eat or how much I buy, though, whatever satisfaction I get from it is fleeting. Sometimes I’m depressed again before I even finish my snack or before my order gets in.

Before you ask, yes, I’m taking my meds. Here’s a shocker for you: Meds aren’t always a permanent, 100% “fix” for this. Science tries, but sometimes life kicks science’s ass.

Here’s just a taste of what life has thrown at me during this blue time:

  • Lackluster book sales (though hiring a cover designer to revamp some of my covers has helped).
  • Frustration over feeling inadequate compared to my more successful author friends who can afford ads and PAs and fancy covers, etc.
  • My “pro bono” personal assistant (who refused to take any payment from me) quit doing her job for most of her clients, including the paid ones–including me–and is now ghosting me. Since I had “hired” her already, I can’t get another PA to take me on until I can talk to her and break our informal agreement.
  • Severe depression over my weight. I tried keto for about two years, and I grew increasingly depressed the longer I did the diet, lamenting that I couldn’t eat foods I liked and that the limited foods I could eat had become boring … not to mention that I had started regaining weight while still on keto. I am trying to get in with a bariatric surgeon for a consult.
  • Sudden increase in introversion/social anxiety. I hate going out anymore, unless it’s an extremely small gathering. I dread the next few SCA events, which I’m obligated to go to. I even dread spending time with immediate family.
  • Embroidery’s no fun anymore, at least not the hand work. I have a great new sewing/embroidery machine that I have yet to try out, but just the thought of the aching fingers from holding the hoop and the needle stalls me every time I try to start one of the projects I have lined up for others.
  • I’ve lost all interest in becoming a Laurel in the SCA. It went from a mild disinterest to a “maybe someday, maybe not” kind of vibe to a sudden “hell, I just want to make pretty things in my own way without worrying about historical accuracy/documentation/research.”
  • Impostor syndrome–BIG TIME. I feel like everyone who’s ever said anything good about my writing has been lying to be nice, even though part of me knows that’s not true.
  • “Mascne” (mask + acne) from the damn two-year-long pandemic. Add in the stress of the above, and yeah … my face, my chin especially, is suffering.
  • Worry over friends that are clear across the country who are sick with COVID or have lost loved ones to the virus, and I can’t do Jack shit to help.
  • A laundry list of other things, including the lack of any kind of motivation to do even basic household chores. Like laundry.

I’ve even prepared a visual aid for this emotional muck:

The picture on the right is me, unfiltered. Breakout on the chin (partly hidden by the angle of the shot–trust me, there’s more), ruddy complexion, blah. The top left picture is me with filters and touch-ups and all that jazz. Maybe I made the eyes too dark of a blue and the skin a bit too pale, but otherwise looking smooth and bright. This is the “outer face” I try to put on when I’m dealing with others. I try to hide the mental and emotional “blemishes,” so I don’t get a dozen people a day asking me what’s wrong.

The bottom left picture is how I often feel lately. Dull, broken out, washed out, dim, dark.

I’ll get through this. I always do. But life might be a little different after. I need to do some hard thinking about what I want to do with my time and how I want to proceed with my daily schedule. Some things may need to be dropped, while I may need to spend more time on others that actually bring some semblance of joy to my life.

Well, it’s time to get off the computer and finish getting ready for work. Oddly enough, that’s the least of my stressors right now!

Out with the Old, in with Uncertainty

2020 was a shitshow. 2021 wasn’t much better. What will 2022 bring?

Of course, there’s the pandemic to deal with still. It might have slowed a fraction–maybe–but it still rages on. There’s the usual work grind, the usual life “stuff” that encompasses much of my time.

Oh, yeah…and the writing.

That last one is perhaps the most uncertain of all. I took a break from writing near the end of the year, more for my mental health than anything, and I’m just not sure where I’m going with it anymore. I mean, I have a couple of book planned to write this year, but it’s nothing like 2021 was. Take a look:

Four novels released. Three novellas. One novella re-released as a solo title. A trilogy of novellas, re-formatted into a single novel and re-released, complete with new cover. And two new epilogues written to a series that also received new covers. Whew!

Three of this year’s releases will also get new covers in the near future (I’m sure you can guess which three just by looking at the image above–I mean, there are three that are clearly not as impressive as the rest. Lol!)

But back to the end of 2021, and its impact on 2022.

I had planned a three-book series, to be released in January, February, and April. I also had signed up for a multitude of box sets, meaning I had several novellas I’d committed to writing. Finally, I planned on finishing the first draft of book 4 in the Abnormal series sometime in 2022. All this, plus whatever came along and sparked my creativity in between.

In short, I was trying to plan a full-time author writing schedule with part-time writing availability–and it nearly destroyed me.

Bipolar disorder isn’t something I try to hide. It’s part of who I am, like being tall or having blue eyes. The mania is tricky, though, and I’d planned all these things during some manic moments when I thought I could conquer the writing world by storm.

Mania doesn’t last forever, and when I came down from it, I crashed hard. Suddenly I was caught up in a massive episode of depression that had me realizing my limitations in a crushing way.

I cancelled the preorder for the first of the novels I was struggling to write. I shelved that series indefinitely, possibly never to surface again. It just wasn’t quality work, and I hated how contrived it was feeling. What little I could force onto the page was just … terrible. I backed out of all but one box set for 2022.

Time to pause, rewind, and rethink.

Going into 2022, I only have a handful of books planned:

  • I still plan on working on and finishing the fourth book in the main Abnormal series
  • I kept in one box set, which is due out I believe in the late summer/early fall of 2022
  • I might–*might*–add in a Valentine’s novella this year, but I’m leaving the option open

For now, that’s it. Aside from revamping a few covers and buckling down on the marketing front (which includes hiring a paid personal assistant to help), I’m going to keep it low-key and low-stress. If a new idea comes to me, I might try to write it as it comes to me…or I might take some notes and set it aside for later.

I won’t stop writing altogether. I know that for sure. I just can’t keep up the pace of a full-time author when I still am working a full-time job.

What a difference a pandemic makes…

Friendship. Sometimes it’s strong, strong enough to weather any storm. Sometimes, though, it’s a tenuous thing, holding on by a thread, and you don’t even know when it snapped.

The pandemic hasn’t made much of a dent in some friendships. In fact, I’d say some of them have solidified even as the world scurried off to hide away at home. Other friendships, however, haven’t fared so well. Some that I previously thought to be solid have now faded into fog, slipping through my fingers as I try desperately to grab onto them. They crumble like a sandcastle kicked by a bully, and I’m left wondering what I did wrong.

It’s not like I only ever talked to these people in person. In fact, some of the friendships that have fallen victim to the impact of the coronavirus were with people I’d only ever met online. Not much of a change in those conditions, right? So why did our conversations thin to the point of evaporation?

Part of it is my fault, I’m sure. I suck at maintaining the connections I have with people. Some of it may be a bit of ADHD-like issues with object permanence: if I don’t interact with Thing/Person, I forget that Thing/Person exists. If they’re not in front of me and not on my screen to show me they’re alive and interacting, my neurodivergent brain tucks their file away for safekeeping, never to be seen again unless they initiate contact. I have to actively force myself to make contact sometimes, push myself to click that icon and type “Hi!”

The sadness comes when I finally make that effort, and I get crickets in response.

It also comes when the realization hits that friendships I’d previously thought to be well-founded turn out to be built on a rickety house of cards. Conditional friendships, ones where I didn’t know what the conditions were until they were no longer met. Stop seeing Person A or doing Activity B, and the friendship gradually disintegrates.

Why should I be sad at losing fair-weather friends? I don’t know, to be honest. Maybe it’s just a visceral, instinctual reaction to any loss of a good thing. A part of me mourns what once was, even if I had misinterpreted that once-friendship. Maybe I even mourn the illusion of friendship. Regardless of what it was, it’s now gone. Vanished. Poof! No more.

From an emotional standpoint, these losses have wrecked me. From an analytical standpoint, though, I find it interesting to ruminate on how these once-friendships will (or won’t) resume after the pandemic–if there is such a thing as “after the pandemic.” At this point, it seems never-ending.

I still have plenty of friends, and I’ll have plenty when I emerge on the other side of this reality. But for the ones I’ve lost? Yeah. I’ll cry a little bit more for now.

I’ll mourn, but then, like them, I’ll move on.

Table for One

There are many tables in life, both physical and metaphorical. You’ve got the jocks’ table, the cool kids’ table, the nerds’ table, the freaks-and-geeks’ table, and then…

….you have the table for one. That one who just doesn’t fit at any of the other tables.

I’ve heard of the indie author community being segregated into these metaphorical tables, and it kind of saddens me. Weren’t we all kind of wedged in with the freaks and geeks growing up? Why not just let everyone in? But I guess the tables have been set, and once again I’m the odd woman out.

Don’t get me wrong; the freaks and geeks, as always, let me scooch into their table if there’s an open seat. But do I really fit in there? Am I being allowed to attend because I’m welcome, or because there’s that bit of pity in the backs of their minds. Or the fronts, if I’m being honest. Because of various neuroses and psychological constraints, they don’t know me well enough to know if I should be “let in,” and who can blame them? I’m the nutjob sitting in the corner talking to herself. I’m the tagalong tugging on their shirttails and asking advice. I’m the one who’s been at this indie writing biz for almost six years, and I am the Jon Snow of indie writing. I know nothing.

There are authors straight out the gate who know more than I do. I’ve been learning all this shit as I go, but some authors burst onto the scene already knowing how to schedule takeovers, snag reliable ARC readers, connect with fans, etc. Me? I’m over here shoving my books in peoples’ faces because I just don’t get how all this works.

I had to ask a fellow author how to describe “me” to potential readers. How to “sell” the being that is “me.” How lame is that? Who doesn’t know the interesting things about themselves? Who doesn’t know some cool factoids that set them apart from the masses? Me. That’s who. It’s me. I don’t know.

I don’t think I’ll ever make it to the cool kids’ table. I’ll be lucky if the freaks-and-geeks let me sit with them. I wonder if the authors at the other tables even see me as a fellow author. I get a certain vibe from many of them, that air of “oh, she’s just a reader who wants to be a writer.” It stings, man. I mean, I work hard to hone my craft. I spend hours every day working at graphics, marketing, writing, editing, design, etc., only to be shot down when I ask for help or offer my assistance, what little I may have to offer. Can I afford fancy covers? No. I design my own. Can I afford teams of personal assistants? Hell, I’m eternally grateful to have found the one miracle worker who’s willing to work with my meager budget. Does that make me any less of an author? Does that diminish my hard work? I’d like to think it doesn’t, but maybe in this nightmare repeat of high school it does.

I almost don’t care anymore. A few of the weirdos have seemingly accepted me. Maybe that’s all I need. Maybe the freaks-and-geeks table is where it’s at. Who needs to be posh or popular? Who wants to be a mean girl or a Heather or a Karen anyway? Maybe I should be a Morticia instead. Roll up in here with my tattoos and piercings and love for the freak side of life.

Table for one, please. Would I like a candle? Sure.

I’ve got some bridges to burn.